Alaska State Jails
The State of Alaska has a relatively small population spread of a very large geographic area. To effectively serve Alaskans, the Alaska Constitution centralized the justice system at the state level. From there, various executive branch agencies hold justice responsibilities. This is different from many other states where the similar services are handled at the county level. In Alaska, these matters (e.g. courts and jails) are handled at the state level and justice agencies organize their administration on a regional basis.
Alaska’s correctional system is operated under the jurisdiction of the Alaska Department of Corrections (“DOC”). The Alaska DOC operates correctional centers and regional jails and regional probation offices. Alaska also has community jails operated by local departments of public safety, borough government, or by city police departments who contract with the State of Alaska to house state prisoners. There are limits as to how long a prisoner can be held in the State contracted jails. Presently there are 15 community jails operating in Alaska.
Population in Jail:
In addition, due to the largely rural nature of Alaska, most rural villages have small lockups for short-term detention of accused offenders. A unique feature of some of these lockups is that a few are only available from the more urban areas of Alaska by air.
One area of the correctional system that is not operated by the DOC are juvenile matters. Juvenile corrections is operated under the jurisdiction of the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice which is a part of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
In 2010, the Fairbanks Daily Minor estimated it costs the State of Alaska $136 a day or $49,800 a year to keep an Alaskan in prison. In addition, the Department of Corrections reported there are rising numbers of prisoners. The daily annual average of the prison population was 4,769 in 2004. By 2010 that number had grown to 5,602.